Black Friday Sales Start Out Strong

137 Million Shoppers Expected Thanksgiving Weekend

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- By noon on Black Friday -- and days before the finally tally is due -- news reports were crowing that retail sales for the day after Thanksgiving were shaping up to be the best in years.
Fifteen minutes after Friday's 5 a.m. opening, shoppers at this Williston, Vt., Wal-Mart still waited in line to enter the store. Many arrived to take up their place in line shortly after midnight.
Fifteen minutes after Friday's 5 a.m. opening, shoppers at this Williston, Vt., Wal-Mart still waited in line to enter the store. Many arrived to take up their place in line shortly after midnight. Credit: AP

Jammed stores
Newspaper, web and TV coverage carried story after story of crowded malls, camped-out shoppers and door-buster specials. Footage of consumers waiting in line to get in stores that opened at midnight was common, and CompUSA and BJ Wholesale warehouse were reported to have opened on Thanksgiving Day for the first time.

According to Big Research statistics commissioned by The National Retail Federation, some 137 million shoppers will hit the malls Thanksgiving weekend. The NRF is predicting retail sales this holiday season to jump 5% to $457.4 billion.

The busiest shopping day
Yet ShopperTrak RTC Corp., a Chicago-based retail intelligence firm, believes Black Friday won't be the busiest shopping day this year -- that honor will go to Saturday Dec. 23.

"Black Friday is always big news, as retailers and economists watch what consumers do and try to gauge the mood of the season," said Jim Martin VP-information products. "What ShopperTrak has noticed over the years is more shopping later in December, as gift buyers finally realize they can't wait any longer. Super Saturday can account for as much as 4% of the season's total traffic."
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